The Mekong River Commission (MRC) announced Friday that the United States had awarded it with a grant of US$773,570 to improve collecting and sharing data for water management and continued exchanges with the Mississippi River Commission.

“Although small, this grant will provide strategic support to the important work of the MRC in the Mekong and wider region,” said Christine Dawson, director of the Office of Conservation and Water at the U.S. Department of State.

Ms. Diana Holland, president of MRC’s sister organisation, said the MRC was an “equal partner” in their relationship. “The Mississippi River Commission believes that we have much to offer, and we are anxious to learn from you,” Major General Holland said.

Dr. An Pich Hatda, chief executive at the MRC Secretariat, said the two agencies had a “common mission and shared commitment” to sustainable development.

The Mekong “is confronted with increasing risks from climate change, extreme floods, droughts, and development activities,” Dr. Hatda said.

The statement said the U.S. grant, running through to to 2024, would improve data sharing for impact monitoring, forecasting, infrastructure operations, basin planning, and reporting on the state of the Lower Mekong Basin.

“It will support disaggregated data collection and mapping on gender and vulnerability, including riverine communities to improve basin planning and operations, as well as early-warning systems,” it said.

The MRC and the Mississippi commission — supported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — have already conducted several exchange visits contributing to better knowledge and practices in the fields of planning, disaster management and stakeholder engagement.

Under the new grant, remote sensing and other technologies are expected to help the MRC implement its Procedures for Water Use and Monitoring along with sharing Lower Mekong conditions with the Cambodian, Lao, Thai and Vietnamese people.

“The programme will also facilitate information sharing and communication between countries as they relate to water-related emergencies including water quality, navigation, and dam safety,” the statement said. “The programme is expected to benefit basin planners, water managers, infrastructure operators, vulnerable river communities, and the general public.”

Earlier this year the MRC joined the U.S.-led Friends of the Mekong that includes the Asian Development Bank, Australia, Cambodia, the European Union, Japan, Lao PDR, Myanmar, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Viet Nam and the World Bank.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press

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